CANADIAN F1 HOPE WICKENS TESTS VIRGIN TEAM CAR
IZOD IndyCar Series boss Randy Bernard, in an effort to goose interest, announced with great fanfare that there would be a $5 million bonus paid to any racing driver who was not a regular driver in the series and who could beat the series regulars at the final race of the season at Las Vegas in October.
Unfortunately, no one applied, which is okay. It was a dumb idea anyway.
In an effort to save face, however, Bernard will reportedly announce in Indianapolis Tuesday that one driver and one driver only – 2011 Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon – will be eligible to collect the bonus if he should happen to win the race.
The deal is that he would split the $5 million down the middle and give half to the team he’ll drive for and the other half to some lucky fan.
This is also a dumb idea. Why Dan Wheldon? What is it about Dan Wheldon that makes him so appealing to the people who run IndyCar? He’s an okay driver, but he’s not great. He’s not particularly popular. He’s good on TV, but so what?
Here’s what they should have done. (Actually, there’s still time: somebody make sure Bernard reads this.)
After the Las Vegas race, the cars used by the IndyCar Series will all be obsolete. So why not fill 'em all up? Yes, it’ll cost the series – probably – another $5 million to pull all this off but who cares? This is a publicity stunt and if they want publicity I guarantee that Dan Wheldon is not the driver to generate it.
But how about Paul Tracy, Jacques Villeneuve, Townsend Bell, Buddy Rice (he’s going to be driving for Panther anyway, but make him eligible for the bonus), Davey Hamilton, John Andretti, Raphael Matos, Buddy Lazier, Bruno Junqueira and Milka Duno? (Okay, maybe not her).
In other words, any qualified Indy racing driver who is not a regular in the series – let’s add Tomas Scheckter to that list – should be eligible to race and to collect the $5 million bonus.
I was going to suggest Sarah Fisher but she’s about to deliver her first child. It would have been great to see her come out of retirement and take it to Danica.
The point is, think big. And let 'em all go, as they used to say in the old days. If the car fires up, it's qualified.
Dan Wheldon? Dan Who? is more like it.
Moving right along, below is a photo received late this morning (Tuesday) of Canadian F1 hope Robert Wickens putting the Marussia-Virigin Formula One car through its paces at Vairano, Italy. Although it was only a straight-line run, it was Robert's first time in the cockpit of the MVR-02 racer.